City policies reshaped by new law

Aug. 16, 2013 @ 08:04 PM

As part of its quest for larger downtown development grants, Henderson adopted Vance County’s fair housing policy along with updates to the city’s equal employment policies this week.

The Henderson City Council also adopted cutting back on part-time and temporary employment hours as a mandate to avoid paying federal Affordable Care Act penalties for scheduling too many hours.

Discussion on the fair housing policy changes included questions by council members on how further tweaking might be done in the future if needed.

City Planning Director Erris Dunston said adopting Vance County’s plan means county leaders are in charge of any changes during the five years that their fair housing analysis documentation remains valid under federal standards.

“We are adopting their analysis of their plan,” Dunston said. “Any tweaking would have to be done by the county.”

The county work was done within the past two years, according to Dunston. However, with the county work inclusive of city areas, Henderson is covered by the existing county documentation without expense to the city for the work to be done again.

The analysis focuses on identification of impediments to fair housing choices within the jurisdiction studied, and includes examination of fair housing practices in Vance County.

City Manager Ray Griffin said the city’s equal employment plan is subject to updates every time quests for grant funding from federal sources are attempted, and the latest updates that the council adopted on Monday are seen as routine.

The changes are part of the $50,000 Talent Enhancement Grant program that works toward eligibility for a $500,000 state grant and possibly other grant assistance for revitalizing downtown areas where blight has been a problem.

Part-time and temporary workers in Henderson may see their hours cut back in order for the city to be in compliance with federal Affordable Care Act mandates.

The new laws commonly called Obamacare require businesses with 50 or more workers to provide healthcare coverage by their full-time employees.

In the Obamacare law is statutory mandates that state any employee averaging more than 30 hours is considered full-time, and therefore must be provided healthcare coverage.

That translates into a mandate to cut hours or face the added expense requirements.

During a recent work session the City Council reviewed the employment ordinance updates, and they adopted them on Monday.

According to statements from Washington, the requirement for employers to provide insurance to their workers or be penalized was delayed until 2015. Discussion continues among federal lawmakers on whether it is possible to make that delay apart from other measures scheduled to be implemented.

Henderson’s new ordinance states department leaders are accountable to keep workers within the classification of part-time or temporary employment as a matter of mandatory compliance.

The ordinance changes state that by definition, a part-time employee is scheduled for 28-hour workweeks not to exceed 35 weeks employment in a calendar year, or 19-hour weeks for year-round service.

Temporary and part-time employees are not to work more than 1,000 hours in a calendar year, according to the city ordinance document as amended.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.